Londoners will soon be able to make unlimited bus and tram journeys within an hour for the price of a single fare, after Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed a long awaited update to his Hopper ticket will roll-out this month.
First launched in September 2016, and one of Mr Khan’s key manifesto commitments, the Hopper allows passengers to switch bus or tram once within an hour of starting their journey. By the end of this month this will be expanded to allow passengers to complete their journey by taking an unlimited number of buses and trams within the hour.
The Mayor has also confirmed that weekly fares capping, already available to passengers who pay for their journeys with a contactless debit or credit card, will be introduced by the end of the year.
Khan, who has committed to freezing Transport for London fares for the entirety of his mayoralty, announced the Hopper update on the same day fares on National Rail services rose by an average of 3.4 per cent.
In addition to hiking up single and return journeys, the rise will push up the cost of travelcards, a situation City Hall has repeatedly sought to suggest Khan has no power to address, despite a Freedom of Information request proving TfL advised the mayor soon after he took office that his freeze could be extended to travelcards.
Citing recent performance figures showing many surface rail services lag behind TfL’s London Overground, Mr Khan said: “It’s time for the government and private rail companies to step up and give the passengers the service they deserve at a price they deserve.
“We’ve shown them it can be done – my TfL fares freeze is helping millions of Londoners every single day while we maintain a much better service, and I’m delighted that they’ll save even more when the popular Hopper fare goes unlimited from the end of the month.”
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, a long-time advocate of an unlimited bus ticket, who said: “The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a one hour bus ticket for a decade.
“Londoners and visitors to the capital will this month start benefiting from a Lib Dem policy finally being delivered.”
However Ms Pidgeon also warned that the mayor will face “increasing difficulties in maintaining much needed investment in London’s transport network and sustaining his fare freeze policy.”
This, she said, was due to a “triple whammy of rising inflation, falling passenger numbers and the Government ending its grant to TfL.”
A London Assembly report published last month warned that the fares freeze was already depriving TfL of the investment it needs.
In recent months the mayor has sanctioned cuts to a number of upgrade schemes, including plans to buy new trains for the Northern and Jubilee lines, and slashed funding on track replacements.
In the cross-party report, AMs said: “We suspect that the mayor’s fares freeze has contributed to this situation.”
TfL’s own figures show that fares income for the current year is £64m below projections, with a shortfall of £13m in the most recent reporting period.
Mr Khan is also considering closing ticket offices on the London Overground, despite previously opposing the closure of offices on the Tube by former mayor Boris Johnson.